Carleton Curatorial Laboratory (CCL): The Nature of Beasts in 17th-Century Prints

September 16, 2013 - January 19, 2014

From the point of view of the digital age, it is difficult to imagine a time when the life of the wild animal was seldom seen and rarely captured.

This exhibition reveals a ‘moment’ in Western history when artists began to observe and imagine the life of creatures, situating them in landscapes representing their natural habitats.

This conceit found its first real exponent in the experimental field observation of English artist Francis Barlow, famous for his illustrated edition of Aesop’s Fables (1666). Through prints, Barlow instigated a visual dialogue about the life or nature of the animal with artists in France and elsewhere.

Focusing on prints from the 16th and 17th centuries, The Nature of Beasts transports viewers to another age, when the intimate viewing of small and detailed prints of birds and animals allowed everyday people to see and imagine the natural world for the first time.

This is the inaugural exhibition in the Carleton Curatorial Laboratory (CCL), a new gallery space will present exhibitions curated by Carleton students, faculty and staff from diverse faculties.

Nathan Flis, curator of The Nature of Beasts, is a post-doctoral fellow in art history at Carleton University.

Curated by

Nathan Flis